Grant Enfinger’s Quest for Four in a Row Falls Shortby Kyle Pokrefky April 27, 2015 0 comments
Photo credit: Kyle Pokrefky/The Fourth Turn
SALEM, In. — Grant Enfinger’s bid for his fourth consecutive victory to open up the 2015 ARCA Racing Series season figuratively – and literally – hit the wall in the Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
Bringing his Mobile and Nashville-winning No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet with GMS Racing down to Salem, the defending winner of the track’s spring race entered Sunday in a strong position to go for win number four in 2015 with a second-place starting position for the day’s 200-lapper.
Enfinger immediately pounced on first-place starter Austin Wayne Self at the drop of the green flag, seizing the lead off of Turn 2 to complete Lap 1 as the leader.
Enfinger continued to lead through Lap 23 before losing the lead to fall Salem winner Tom Hessert. After losing the lead, the driver of the No. 23 car bounced around the top-10 fighting the race’s various comers and goers for position on track and on pit road.
With less than 30 laps to go, Enfinger sat in a prime position to have a shot at then leader Ken Schrader on a restart, sitting in the third position.
Once the green flag flew, Enfinger mashed the gas and squeezed his way to second off of Turn 2 and right on Schrader’s back bumper. As the laps continued to click away, the No. 52 Chevrolet of Schrader began to slowly pull away as Enfinger began to fall back towards the pack.
While fighting for second with the No. 22 car of Kyle Weatherman, Enfinger was a bit over-aggressive as his car lost its handling and pancaked the Turn 4 wall, breaking a track bar mount in the process.
As Schrader went on to win the race, Enfinger was relegated to a 13th-place finish – eight laps off the lead.
“We were just kind of giving it all we had trying to salvage a good finish,” Enfinger said. “We had a really good car on the short runs – we just struggled a little bit there on the long runs.
“Got a little aggressive in trying to get up there and race with Kenny a little bit. We really didn’t have that great of a car there to be racing with him there at the end.”
As for what led to the contact with the Turn 4 wall, Enfinger is not placing any blame on the 17-year-old Weatherman.
“22 got in there trying whatever he could to get around us,” Enfinger stated. “He didn’t hit me, he just kind of squeezed me and I was trying to drag race him down the front stretch and I just jumped the cushion there in Turn 4 and it sucked me into the wall and broke the track bar mount.
“Pretty hard hit … put a pretty good hurting on this car and it’s been a good one for us. We’ll come back and we’ll be good for Talladega.”
Entering the Federated Auto Parts 200 with a monster-sized points lead, Enfinger will unofficially take a 95-point lead in the drivers standings over Austin Wayne Self into Friday’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky